Academy Award® nominee Will Smith (2006, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, The Pursuit of Happyness) stars as Ben Thomas, a man at a crossroads searching for a way to redeem his heavy conscience. He discovers he has the power to change the circumstances of seven strangers who deserve a second chance. But when one of them captures his heart, he must decide if he should reveal his secret -- even if it means giving up on his plan. From the creators of The Pursuit of Happyness, SEVEN POUNDS is an "emotionally charged, captivating mystery with a soulful, tender love story and a tearful but joyfully inspiring ending"
It takes a while to figure out what exactly is going on in Seven Pounds- the latest Will Smith starrer from his Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino- but when you do, I suspect that it’s going to be one of those “love it or hate it” moments.
The film opens intriguingly enough with a 911 emergency call from Ben Thomas (Will Smith) reporting a suicide- actually, his own. How and why Ben Thomas came to that emotional moment is something you have to try to unravel for yourself from its fractured narrative. But here’s what I can tell you about the film without spoiling anything for you- Ben is also an IRS agent, and he’s out to change the lives of seven people in extraordinary ways.
Yes, seven people, though most of the time the movie is really focused on just one of the seven, Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), an attractive woman whom Ben shares an easy chemistry with. Still that doesn’t mean the story is easy to follow, especially at the start. Because the story zips forwards and backwards quite effortlessly, it is bound to get a little confusing.
Nevertheless, that’s also part of the pleasure of watching Seven Pounds, the pleasure of not knowing what you should expect next. Indeed, there’s a lot hinging on the big reveal at the end- though perceptive viewers should already have guessed it. Yet when the pieces do fall into place, you’re either going to be moved or left staring incredulously at the screen. And I must admit that I fall into the latter category.
No doubt director Muccino and writer Grant Nieporte had good intentions for creating this redemptive story, but somehow I was left skeptical. Not because I’m cynical- what didn’t work for me was how Ben Thomas got to accomplish his end. It’s hard to say anything more without giving away too much; suffice to say that while other reviewers have taken issue with the ends, my dissatisfaction was with his means, which to me were simply too far-fetched to be real.
Thankfully, Will Smith is always watchable as ever. The actor turns in an enigmatic performance as Ben Thomas, but also manages to give his character enough sincerity and earnestness to make you root for him. Smith also shares a natural, easygoing way with co-star Rosario Dawson, and this chemistry immediately makes their scenes together more heartfelt.
I wouldn’t say I hated Seven Pounds. But I can certainly say I didn’t like it much. It’s a film that works hard to try to tantalize you, to captivate you but such a film needs an equally powerful kicker of an ending to make all that anticipation worthwhile. Sadly, in the end, it just wasn’t worth the wait for me.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Commentary with director Gabriele Muccino: You have to bear with director Gabriele Muccino’s strong Italian-accented English for this commentary. Worth a listen for Muccino’s sharing of how the non-linear storyline of the movie was put together.
Seven Views on Seven Pounds: In seven separate segments, the writer, the producers, the director, the location manager, the designer, the editor and the composer of Seven Pounds all weigh in with their own experience of working on the movie.
Creating the Perfect Ensemble: Casting director Denise Shaiman and director Gabriele Muccino share the rationale behind their casting choices for the film, while the actors talk about how they connected to their various characters.
The Box Jellyfish: Why this segment which seems like it belongs more on National Geographic is on this DVD will become apparent after you watch the movie. Take it as a nice introduction into one of Australia’s deadliest marine creatures.
The Art of the Printing Press: Now this looks like something that belongs on the History Channel. The printing press features prominently in Emily Rosa’s part of the story in Seven Pounds, and this serves as a brief introduction into its history.
Great visual transfer that brings out some beautifully rendered shots- like the aforementioned box jellyfish swimming tranquilly. Otherwise, the Dolby 5.1 audio only comes alive during when the film’s score gets dramatic.
by Gabriel Chong